Australian teen hacks into Apple's main network


An Apple spokesman in San Francisco insisted Friday that the Australian teen’s unauthorized access had been contained and the incident had been reported to America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“We … want to assure our customers that at no point during the incident was their personal data compromised,” said Apple to its service users. US and Australian authorities also remained coy over details of the intrusion.

Back in 2016, Apple resisted an FBI bid to force it to unlock an iPhone belonging to a mass shooter in San Bernardino – until an FBI contractor provided an expensive forensic access tool.

Earlier this month, Apple surpassed $1 trillion (€879 million) in market value, built in part on its reputation as a privacy standard-bearer.

Accessed ‘many times’

The teen’s lawyer told the Children’s Court of Victoria that the teen, then 16, had broken electronically into Apple’s mainframe network many times over a year, downloading 90 gigabytes of supposedly secure files.

Read more: Facebook apologizes for leak

Australian Federal Police — at the FBI’s request — raided the boy’s family home in a Melbourne suburb, seizing two laptops, a mobile phone and a hard drive, according to a report in Melbourne’s The Age, although police declined comment.

The teenager nicknamed his electronic storage folder as “hacky hack hack” and boasted on the messaging service WhatsApp about his exploits, The Age added.

The boy’s lawyer said the teen had dreamed of working for the US firm.

Access devices identified

Serial numbers of devices, including two Apple laptops used to hack into Apple’s network, had subsequently been traced as were Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, said a prosecutor quoted by The Age.

Sentencing of the teen, whose name has not been made public, is expected to take place on 20 September.

CEO Tim Cook introducing the Apple iPhone X

CEO Tim Cook introducing the Apple iPhone X

Customer privacy central

In June, Apple said it was changing iPhone default settings in its operating system to cut off communication through an USB port used by forensic firms to get around safeguards that limit how many password guesses can be made.

“At Apple, we put the customer at the center of everything we design,” said Apple in a recent statement.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has in the past hailed privacy as a fundamental right for customers and criticized competitors for running advertising-related services that vacuum up data.

ipj/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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